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The new children’s trade show Little Fashion Week Brussels, targeted to both professionals and final consumers, ending Sunday afternoon. Full report…

A beautiful show

Little Fashion Week managed to create a “Wow effect”, through the wonderful industrial space, scenography, brands selection, and beautiful catwalk show. Not to mention the memorable catering area, delicious in all respects.

The European trade-show calendar is quite packed, so every time a new project is coming up, my reaction is “do we really need another fair?”.  But when Sandrine Bouillon, organiser of Little Fashion Week in Brussels contacted me, I got interested by the new approach, combining a catwalk show plus the BtoB/BtoC angle. Something that big fairs dream but never managed to bring to life (Bread& Butter Berlin being a good example).

My instinct was right as it proved to be an interesting show, like a mini version of Playtime+Maison&Objet, all under one roof (with daylight!), with a personal touch, a boutique feel and brands I would probably not have met at the Paris shows. As always, to me small is beautiful!

Julia Koorn, an independent agent and distributor in the UK found herself very happy to have made the trip. “The show was held in an extraordinary building, the city’s former customs warehouse called Tour et Taxis, a vast Victorian structure full of character and natural light. It was a spacious location and made for a calm and airy feeling. The facilities included an excellent cafe and food truck, imaginatively-decorated and furnished networking areas and well-choreographed fashion shows. The exhibitors were all of a very good level, both creatively and quality-wise, and were a mix of local and international. The standard of display and overall design consideration was very high and unlike anything we have in the UK” she said.

 

LFW - Little Fashion Week Brussels

Weak point :”where are the buyers?”

The weak point of Little Fashion Week however was a biggie : only a bunch of buyers showed up. It was like having the perfect cake ready to be baked, and having no electricity for the oven…The show was almost desert the first two days, leaving exhibitors who had spent lots of time, efforts and money, quite anxious, sometimes a little angry…

The last day, open to the public, finally brought some animation in the alleys and stands. “Sunday was much busier, especially for the cat walk, when the show ended there was a mass exodus of people, I think they were mainly friends & family of the children (models for the show). But it was a good atmosphere and happier faces all round!” reports Madeleine James of British brand Lapin&me. Dimitra Zavakou of Little Pop Up also comments “It is a fantastic opportunity that brands can sell the last day and meet their consumers, besides presenting to buyers the first two days”. “On sunday it looked almost like a fair…I’ve seen more than 30 visitors” continues Eloise Morandi of Nina and other little things, who came to Brussels from Italy with her collection based on stationary and paper items.

On the positive side

The lack of buyers left some exhibitors really disappointed, but for a a few lucky brands, the show brought a satisfying amount of orders. Best performances were made by Boramiri (orders from Brussels, Bordeaux, The Netherlands) and Georges (orders from Sweden, London, Belgium , Geneva).

Equally happy, Linda Raituma of Paade Mode says “I am overall happy about LFW. I think the format, the space, the concept are new and LFW has potential. Thanks to LFW, we will be in Brussels (Belgium), UK, the Netherlands, Paris (France) and we got 2 more orders from Korea yesterday…I think directly linked to LFW”.

Few buyers, but at least coming from all over Europe and even from Japan (1 buyer). Visiting from the UK, Gabrielle Spang of Scandinavian Minimall found the who interesting, with a good brands selection. Kids on the Dock (Antwerp) and Babyccino Kids were also walking the show.

We really enjoyed the show. It felt really like you were discovering some hidden treasures that you hadn’t seen everywhere already. It was like finding a diamond on the rough, which is very rare for trade shows these days. The location was really beautifully done, and even though it was a small show, it really gave us (the buyers) the chance to really sit down and talk with brands which is a novelty these days“, comments Joslyn Oppenheimer of o-store Shak Shuka.

For exhibitors who did not meet their commercial expectations, the final feeling stays however rather positive.For Lydia Rump of Copirates, it was very poor in terms of business, however “rich in contacts with other exhibitors, bloggers, photographers and friends of friends who visited the last day“. A feeling shared by all, everyone mentioning a memorable show for the quality of the exhibitors and the good spent exchanging information with the participants, sometimes also buying from each other or making plans for work collaborations.

The cat walk show was very fresh and sweet, with professional children (from model agency Ministar ), acting like proper kids and not like mini-adults.

Important fact to nots also, designers report more sales on their e-store certainly due to the media/social media coverage, as well as a strong increase in Facebook and Instagram followers.

The organiser’s words

It’s a first show” remind the organisers, “and we have taken our lessons from it. The government (Gouvernement de Wallonie) promised to give us funds, and we will work on our organisation model so that everyone works hand in hand to improve what was not right. We have a lot of press, and people might also get lots of contacts as well as orders, in the weeks  after the show“.

In September 2014 Sandrine Bouillon will communicate the dates for 2015, as most of the exhibitors have confirmed  their participation for the next edition, provided that the problem of the buyers’s attendance was  addressed and a real plan of action was communicated.

LFW catering area Little Fashion Week Brussels

Brands at LFW

Exhibitors at the show were more or less part of 3 categories :

  • Brands who had already participated to trade-shows (Noro, Paade Mode, Maravilla, Bieq, Caroline Bosmans, Deuz, Cotton and Milk, Editions Grains de sel, Lecons de choses, Perludi, Tamar Mogendorff, Severina Kids, etc).
  • Brands with already a good online presence but who had never participated to a trade-show (Copirates, La Princesse au Petit Pois, Nina and other little things, Teenytini, Marie-Rose et Alice, etc).
  • New comers and “others” (Bao, Bavetton, Boramiri, La P’tite Madeleine, Maria Piovano, TDM, etc).

Brussels’ stores had an exhibiting space where they replicated the atmosphere of their boutiques. This created a dynamic exchange between buyers and exhibitors : Boucle d’or owned by Sabrina Palmisano, and Mercredi owned by Leonie Flour placed orders with a fair amount of brands. 

All the brands are all well presented on Little Fashion Week’s website, so here’s just a selection of brands that I hadn’t seen before and that I found particularly interesting :

Clothing

Caroline Bosmans (Belgium) : a strong collection with high fashion content. Available at Little fashion Gallery, Shan & Toad, Hunting and collecting…

Cotton and Milk (Belgium) : timeless quality knits, in Italian wool yarns+ alpaca. Available at Boucle d’Or Brussels, Petit Hood, Baby Bubble Korea, Line + Liv…

Bieq (Netherlands) : gorgeous collection of knits, handmade in Peru, all in Merino wool. The baby line is really wonderful. Available at Mercredi Brussels, Cat en Muis brussels, Spruit (online)…

Bao (France) : blouses, dresses and boy’s shirts made out of aprons from the 60’s-70’s. The concept and ethics are  interesting, the boys’ shirts are really unique.

Bao - Little Fashion Week Brussels

Toys&Education

Boramiri (France) : dolls and rabbits by a young Korean textile print designer. Available at Boucle d’Or Brussels, Shak Shuka (online), Little Fabric Bordeaux,  Mercredi Brussels…

Deuz (France) : creative, educative products, beautifully made. The brand started with a single item, a babymat, and now has a whole range of games, tipi, and other playful items.

Editions Grains de Sel (France) : a magazine called Georges, posters, cards, paper objetcs, all very graphic and smart.

Décor

Copirates (France) : a wonderful universe of very creative, poetic and crafty objects, with emphasis on recycling.

Georges (France) : the tie and dye tipi is a must, all the rest also very special and fresh, beautifully made.

La P’tite Madeleine (France) : illustrations, stuffed rabbits and more, enchanting. Available at Molly-Meg (online, UK).

GEORGES - Little Fashion Week BrusselsGeorges

LA P'TITE MADELEINE - Little Fashion Week BrusselsLa P’tite Madeleine

Furniture

German brand Perludi, owned by Thomas Maitz, was presenting its own collection as well as Krethaus from Argentina. Two great labels joining forces to introduce quality furniture for children’s rooms.

KRETHAUS - Little Fashion Week Brussels

 &more…

Chameleon (France) : costumes and masks in felt.

Maria Piovano (Italy) : aprons made out of typical Italian kitchen rags.

Marie Talalaeff (France) : amazing papier mach creations – pure art!

Tdm (France) : little “scenettes” created from vintage pieces with fantastic attention to details.  Available at Molly-Meg (online, UK).

TDM

Best booth

If I had to give a special award to the best booth, it would go to Severina Kids who created an incredible set out of carton boxes. Echoing so well the brand’s beautiful website. Well done!

severina kids - Little Fashion Week Brussels

Severina Kids - Little Fashion Week Brussels

The show was lightened by the presence of Mr Dongsun Choo, official photographer coming from South Korea, and very enthusiastic commenter of the beautiful things around!

Dongsun Choo

Hopefully see you again in Brussels in 2015 !